We Are Scientists are the band that refused to get the hell out of your way.
Still here and still hilarious, the much-loved indie rock outfit are currently putting the final lick of metaphorical paint to their fifth studio album.
Out in Spring, the record is set to be accompanied by a flurry of nationwide shows, with We Are Scientists set to introduce fans to new material while re-visiting those classic early cuts.
Clash invited the band to take part in Good Trip, Bad Trip, a regular feature where acts look back on their time on the road. Hi-jinks ensue...
- - -
- - -
Best Tour Trip...
We did a two week tour of Europe last fall with Irish rock 'n' rollers ASH, who’ve been good friends since we taught them to read a couple of years ago. We shared a crew, and so were all able to fit into one big triple-decker bus (lots of rooms but very low ceilings). It was great fun being in the beautiful cities of Europe with pals - Copenhagen, Vienna, Bologna. Even ugly cities like Berlin were a blast, although it let us down when we tried to pay a visit to notorious late-night dance spot Berghain.
It was not yet three in the morning, and a Tuesday (‘the new Friday,’ we had heard), and when we rolled up in our taxi, the hundreds of yards of covered walkway that should have been packed tight with leather-wrapped, face-tattooed club goers were instead EMPTY, and the front door shut up tight. It looked like the proprietors had knocked off at around 11. Very disappointing. Oh, but that was the uncharacteristic low point of our BEST TOUR TRIP ever.
Worst Tour Trip...
A long time ago, before we had any success or fans or any real ability to play our instruments, we were befriended by a Brooklyn impresario who did a little show promoting, a little booking, ran a small but very cool (and no doubt financially disastrous) label, etc. A man of many ‘talents,’ all of which could be boiled down to self confidence. We should have been suspicious of his interest in us, but since we knew, in our heart of hearts, that we possessed great promise, it didn’t seem so strange that this guy might see it, too. He was a con man — let’s just say it. (We’ll leave his name out because he’s almost certainly in jail right now, and reading this would only lump additional shame onto his already shame-slathered head, which would be cruel.)
Anyway, he offered us a show. It was at a bar he booked way out on the Eastern tip of Long Island — a “fisherman’s bar,” but “really hip,” with “always a great crowd,” and they would put us up for the night so we could get wasted without worrying about the drive home. In the email he sent us with final logistical details for the show, this guy entered into our permanent band lexicon a phrase that we still find frequent use for: “You lucky dogs.” Meaning, “you stupid schmucks.”
The show was terrible. The owners at the bar had no idea we were coming — said they hadn't booked a band, and evinced zero recognition when we dropped the name of our Brooklyn booking amigo. With a sense of powerlessness that must have been beaten into them by years of living on the tip of a land-finger shoved right up the stormy asshole of the Atlantic Ocean, they said we could set up our equipment in one corner of the spacious, carpeted dining room and play a set. So we did, to the annoyance and frustration of the dozen or so fishermen staring morosely into bowls of soup. At some point we played a Beatles cover, although we can’t remember which one, and that really perked up the fishermen. But then when it turned out we didn’t know any more Beatles songs, their disgruntlement redoubled.
Later, we slept on sandpaper sheets in bunk beds across from the bar’s bathrooms, then woke the next morning and made the three hour drive back to the city. They had paid us $40 out of pity, which covered gas. Lucky dogs indeed.
Our favourite foreign venue...
In a rural slice of land on the island of Bali, in the archipelago–nation of Indonesia, an odd little group of expats - American and Australian, mostly - have created the DEUS compound (“temple of enthusiasm,” in their hippy-dippy parlance), a place where surfboards are built, old motorcycles are souped up, cheap cocktails and mediocre sushi are served, and the latest artist in residence stumbles around with a chronic sunburn and a fresh hangover. When the impulse strikes them, every few months, DEUS brings in a band — one time we were that band.
What happens is that they put you up in a nearby house for four or five days, give you as many bikes as you need to get back and forth from the compound to the house to the beach, feed you and fill you with booze, and teach you to surf. At some point toward the end of your stay, they throw a big party in the grass-covered courtyard at the center of the “temple” grounds, and people come from all over the island, get drunk, and go crazy while you play. On Tuesdays the bar hosts “Taco Tattoo-sday,” where tacos are a buck and tattoos are free. Try to line your trip up to coincide with that.
We're surprisingly popular in...
Vienna. They’ve got a real taste for us there. The feeling is mutual.
Best and worst exotic foodstuff...
As spoiled eaters of New York pizza, which really is as good as they say, we’re almost always dismayed by pizza elsewhere. We’re powerless to resist trying it, though, so firmly has New York wired our brains to seek out pizza. So pizza, when it is exotic, is the worst exotic foodstuff. In Columbia once, in Bogota, Chris was blind-sided by a steak. We were at a restaurant 40 minutes outside the city called Andres Carne de Res - a famous place. It’s a restaurant, yes, but with Disneyland and Times Square and maybe a little New Orleans grafted into its DNA. The focus, to all appearances, is on the lengthy, elaborate cocktail list, and the riot of surreal visuals, and the dance tents behind the main dining building. So when the food came, and Chris bit into his “al trapo” tenderloin, and nothing had ever tasted anywhere near as good, it was a surprise.
The most interesting individual we’ve met on the road...
Zachris. He’s a Finnish promoter who works for Live Nation and once put on a W.A.S. show in Helsinki. We hit it off with him, so much so that he decided to come with us the next day when we went to St. Petersburg — he just got on the train with us. At our St. Petersburg show, he continually brought us drinks from side of stage. “Drinks” in the sense that they were liquid, but if you ever got served one of these infernal concoctions at a bar, you’d demand an explanation. You wouldn’t have wanted to light a match around these things.
It’s hard to know what he was even putting in them, since we didn’t have anything in our dressing room with sufficient octane to account for the tall glasses of venom he shoved into our hands between songs. That Russian audience definitely thought we were “rock 'n' roll” to a fault, to the detriment of the music, because on that night we were. Ironically, at the end of the night, many hours later, we all ended up in our hotel beds - Zachris, on the other hand, was found passed out in the hallway by hotel staff.
Worst on-tour injury, or infection, or accident...
That guy Zachris.
Our essential travel item...
Drugs. Not the illegal kind. Medicinal formulae are marketed under different brand names in different territories, so it's confusing to visit a pharmacy when you're sick, even though you know exactly what you want. It's especially confusing when you don't speak the local language. It's double-especially confusing when you don't speak the language and have a high fever that’s inducing hallucinations.
Our essential travel tip...
Stay off the fever! Fever may be the cool new way to get high - getting a crazy high fever - but ambling around on foreign soil is confusing enough without addled brains. Leave the fever at home.
- - -
We Are Scientists have confirmed the following shows:
24 Bristol Bierkeller
25 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
26 Newcastle Riverside
27 Birmingham Library
29 Leicester Handmade Festival
30 Leeds Live At Leeds
1 Glasgow Stag & Dagger
3 Manchester Academy 2
4 London KOKO
5 Brighton Concorde 2